Why and how did ISIS and Muslim fundamentalism gain momentum this year?
The tenth meeting of European Religions in Brussels. Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, 1st, Syed Ali Abbas, Joint Secretary of Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Shi’a Europe, 2nd, Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising; President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (Comece), 3rd, holding a microphone, and Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guilford and President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), 5th (from left to right). (EC Audiovisual Services, 10/06/2014).
The European Investment Bank chose the perfect timing at the end of the year to take stock of its support to Egypt, or probably not? On 22 December 2014 EIB published a Press release entitled “Supporting Egypt’s democratic transition: a priority for EIB totalling more than €800 m of projects financed over the last three years”. Under the same spell, the European Commission informed us some days ago that it launched “the first ever EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis” and also that the “EU releases emergency funds for humanitarian assistance to Libya”.
Some more EU action like that and even the cool blue waters of the Mediterranean could become inflammable. For one thing, EIB’s support to Egypt along with more ‘help’ from other European institutions during the past three years, didn’t stop but rather helped the country to end up again in a kind of presidential — military — dictatorship. As for Libya and Syria the European ‘interest’ turned two well-to-do nations into real infernos. Unquestionably Gaddafi and Assad, the tyrants of Libya and Syria ruled them with an iron fist. Nevertheless their countries did exist under them, and the population enjoyed a more or less comfortable living.
The destructive ‘interest’ of the West
On the south Mediterranean coast only Egypt escaped from complete destruction as a result of the European and the American ‘attention’, over the Arab spring. Tiny Tunisia is still hooked on a kind of civil war, while Algeria has always been internally tormented by blood-spattered confrontations. Morocco, by the help of God, has escaped to this day the destructive power of the ‘Arab Spring’. Not to say anything about Iraq and Afghanistan. As for the latest focal point of the European interest — this time in the heart of Europe — Ukraine is already dismembered. Crimea is now a part of Putin’s Russia and Donetsk and Luhansk are vehemently fought upon by private armies. Their populations are victimised and in need of everything.
The year that ends now brought out of the Iraqi and the Syrian infernos a new monster, the ISIS Caliphate. It’s like a zombie which was hatched out, in the total political vacuum left after the dissolution of two once mighty states. Syria and Iraq became republics in the 1950s along the lines of the Nasserist tradition, instituting the so-called Arab socialism, a mixture of nationalistic populism and militarism, without any trace of religious references. In the 1980s and 1990s their Nasserist and Baathist structures had already slipped into totalitarian military regimes, under Saddam Hussein and the two al-Assads, Hafez and Bashar father and son. Now, Iraq and Syria are completely destroyed with the help of the western meddling.
Arab nationalism turns to theocracy
In any case, today’s reality is that after the thorough obliteration of the political structures in the most populous Arab countries, there is nothing left as a cohesive element for all those societies than religion, and there are many. And whenever religion takes the reigns of society replacing politics, the genie comes out of the bottle. Unfortunately the Arab societies didn’t have the time to develop more civil and civic structures which could act as cohesive material. With the autocratic Arab nationalism/socialism gone, internal differences became uncontrollable and today’s inferno is the result.
All along this process Europe and primarily the US acted on a completely egotistic way, targeting exclusively on the control the oil reserves below the ground, regardless of what happens on it. This is what happened in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Egypt, the nascent place of Nasserism, escaped complete destruction thanks to its stronger private economy, the absence of oil reserves and its more developed social structures. Most importantly though, in Egypt there is a deep-rooted tradition of the role of the army as the ultimate guarantor of the existence of the estate.
What do Europe and the West want?
Turn and twist as the West may want it the genie is now out of the bottle. ISIS has become the main political expression of the destitute and beleaguered Muslim masses all over the world. It’s absolute and revengeful version of Islam appeals and attracts the Muslim underclasses worldwide. The latest incidents of Islamist terrorism in France were perpetrated by local Muslim underdogs gone wild. Everybody acknowledges that ISIS is not something that can be dealt with only by the Western military might. The main forces fighting it on the ground in Iraq and Syria are the Kurdish fighters, but they will go as far as to secure their own territory. This will leave vast terrains for ISIS to establish its power.
Unquestionably, 2014 leaves us a legacy of a world-wide movement of absolutist Muslim hostility, touching not only the Middle East and Africa but also the heart of many European cities. It is fuelled by the economic, political and social obliteration of entire countries. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia are the focal points of this new Muslim fundamentalism, but it overwhelms more countries in two continents and now spreads in the degraded neighbourhoods of the European urban conglomerates.
It appears then, that in a background of economic destruction in North Africa and the Middle East and the social exclusion in Europe, Muslim fundamentalism has become the only connecting material that can offer to millions of people a sense of unity and common purpose in this futile world.
Originally published at europeansting.com on December 29, 2014.